Shipping lines reject tugboat fee rise in Kingston, Jamaica

Major shipping lines whose vessels call at the Port of Kingston have said that they would be rejecting an increase in vessel towing fees by the concessionaire Canada-based Ocean Towing.

The tugboat operating company had said that it was raising fees in accordance with rights derived under the 10-year concession agreement which it signed with the Port Authority of Jamaica last year, to provide harbour towage services in Kingston from June 2018.

It said that the increase was because of a failure to meet its financial projections because on lower than expected vessel calls at Kingston.

The concession agreement allows Ocean Towing sole rights to operate tugboat services at the Port of Kingston. The announced increases in towage and waiting time rates are about 21% while the fuel surcharge will rise by 12.6%.

The notice of the increases, which is expected to be effective February 1st 2019, was circulated to shipping line representatives in Jamaica between January 31st and February 7th. with a date of January 31st 2019.

The Shipping Association of Jamaica said that the increase effective took effect one day after the letter was written, but in some cases the notice was received after the effective date of the increase.

The shipping lines have argued that the custom in Kingston was that the operator of towing services meet with the users of its services and negotiate increases in rates.